Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields director Jessica Dimmock remembers the eerie feeling of stepping foot inside the infamous Calder Road field in League City, Texas where the bodies of four women were found in the 1980s. Their murders remain unsolved.
“It definitely feels like something,” Jessica Dimmock told MovieMaker. “The idea that someone, or several people, kept coming back and bringing bodies to this one area and leaving them there — and that bodies laid in the field undiscovered for months if not years at a time, so close to each other — there is something about being in that place and seeing the proximity of how close they were.”
Dimmock takes over directing the third installment of Netfilx’s ongoing anthology true crime series Crime Scene from Joe Berlinger, who directed Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel and Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer. Dimmock’s previous work includes Hulu’s true-crime series Captive Audience, about Steven Stayner’s 1972 kidnapping and the ensuing ordeal that followed his family for decades.
The four women at the center of the Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields whose bodies were found in the Calder Road field in the 1980s are Heidi Villareal Fye, Laura Miller, Audrey Lee Cook, and Donna Prudhomme. The details of how and why they were killed remain a mystery, but their families’ fight to bring them justice continues on to this day, as shown in the docuseries.
The Calder Road field in League City is just one small section of the greater Texas Killing Fields, nicknamed after the 1984 Cambodian war drama The Killing Fields. But the number of women and girls whose bodies were found between 1971 and 1999 in the greater Texas Killing Fields — a 45-mile radius of highway-adjacent land alongside I-45 between Houston and Galveston — is more than 30, according to CBS News.
Although League City, which is part of Galveston County and the Greater Houston metropolitan area, is a lot busier today than it was in the 1980s, the Calder Road field is now protected from development, Jessica Dimmock says.
“The property is now owned by a church, and they have kind of taken a commitment to protect it,” she said. “It’s a sacred kind of place and it will never be built upon. That being said, it’s a cleared field now and there’s stuff around it, but at the time [of the murders] it would have all been brambly. And so it’s eerie. It’s really eerie to think about young women laying there with their bodies missing for so long.”
The nature of the Texas Killing Field murders was so gruesome — and the anguish of the victim’s parents was so emotionally affecting, as viewers will remember — that Dimmock spontaneously flew home to spend time with her own daughter during filming.
“Compartmentalizing it, I don’t do super well. I’ll be totally honest, which is that I found parts of this one super gut-wrenching, and I found it really awful and hard to imagine what some of these families went through,” she said.
She spoke with Gay Smither, the mother of a fifth young girl, 12-year-old Laura Smither, whose body was found in another part of the Texas Killing Fields in 1997. Smither encouraged Dimmock to honor her urge to be with her daughter.
“I remember talking to Gay Smither, who is Laura Smither’s mother, and she was talking about how Laura’s legacy has made them better parents and held their kids tighter. I remember looking at her and being like, ‘I need to go home and hug my kid.’ I’ve got a five-year-old, and that really impacted me,” Jessica Dimmock says. “I was like, I’m sorry, I’m leaving early, but I just had this sense that I like needed to be home with my daughter, and she embraced me and was like, ‘I fully support that, and you go home and hug your daughter.’ That’s the type of memory that really sticks with you.”
As for answers about who killed the four women whose bodies were found in the Calder road field in the 1980s — Miller, Fye, Prudhomme, and Cook — a killer has yet to be brought to justice. However, Smither’s 1997 murder was solved when William Reece confessed to her murder as well as those of two other young women, Jessica Cain and Kelli Ann Cox, in July 2022, according to Click2Houston. Reece was sentenced to life in prison.
The Texas Killing Fields is now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: Heidi Villareal Fye, courtesy of Netflix.